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Morning Coffee: Goldman Sachs' ex-Partner's unofficial guide to surviving the grind of banking jobs. Sam Bankman-Fried's "life of delusion" laid bare

Junior bankers are tired again. As we reported this week, working hours are back to unsustainable levels at some banks as managing directors who are rightly paranoid about losing their own jobs enter a frenzy of ever more detailed pitching.  

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For all those struggling to cope, some will get a buzz off the nervous tics and alopecia that one former associate says result from working in extremis. One of those people appears to have been Stephanie Cohen, the Goldman Sachs partner who resigned this week. 

Cohen ended up working in the cul-de-sac that was Goldman's shrivelling platform division, but she began her career working in M&A in New York in 1999. There, the Financial Times says she "thrived" on the long hours and distinguished herself as a person who would go far.

How do you do this if you're 23-year-old working wild hours? Cohen doesn't give explicit advice, but there's implicit advice embedded in the FT's portrayal of her. 

Firstly, you need to have a lot of energy in the first place. Cohen "fizzes" with it according to the FT; she may be small, but she's effervescent. Cohen is "intense' and "fills up a room."

Secondly, you need to be intelligent. The FT says Cohen is "scarily smart." This may not be directly relevant when you're building Excel models and formatting pitchbooks, but might give you a sense of the bigger picture. 

Thirdly, it helps to be a wit. Cohen is reportedly "very funny." She is also "blunt", which suggests she was able to quip her way through the analyst years while subsequently delivering information in a way that might have been considered rude were anyone else to attempt the same.

Lastly and most importantly, though, the FT says Cohen had the killer app for surviving an early career at Goldman Sachs: a boyfriend at the firm. She met her husband there, and they reportedly "bonded while eating pad Thai and watching American Idol in work conference rooms." He later left to run an investment fund, but the prospect of a brief date in a conference room makes all the difference when you're in your 20s and have no real life outside of work. 

Separately, Sam Bankman Fried at FTX is still trying to argue that he's an altruistic autist who would give all the money back if he got the chance, but John Ray, the caretaker CEO who's been running FTX in Bankman Fried's enforced absence has written a "fiery letter" saying this isn't so. 

The Financial Times has seen this letter and says that Ray accuses Sam of, “hubris, arrogance, and a complete lack of respect for the basic norms of the law," of a "life of delusion" and of being, “categorically, callously, and demonstrably false”. Most notably, Ray says Sam could never have returned the crypto to customers because, “when I took over as CEO, there were only 105 bitcoins left on the FTX.com exchange, against customer entitlements of nearly 100,000 bitcoins”. The rest had allegedly been spent/"converted into other things" by Sam and his team. 

The FT asked SBF's spokesperson to comment. They did not. 

Meanwhile...

The City of London isn't the big rates trading centre it once was. In interest rate swaps and options, the UK’s share fell to 43 per cent in 2022, from more than 50 per cent in 2019, as euro-denominated trading shifts inside the EU. (Financial Times) 

Deutsche Bank has begun moving staff out of its London Wall building to new offices at 21 Moorfields, built by Sir Robert McAlpine and handed over 18 months late, with the firm now taking possession of several floors of the 17-storey block which is still being fitted out. (Building) 

Nick Bird, the former head of Macquarie's Asian Alpha Fund has a hedge fund called OQ Funds Management in Hong Kong which is quietly thriving. (Bloomberg) 

Data shows that direct lenders tend to be much more optimistic about their loans’ prospects in the months running up to a default. (Bloomberg) 

Turns out that the CEO of Reddit earned $193m in 2023. (Quartz) 

Sam Delaney, a former City trader who nearly lost his life to addiction, now runs the Black Gull Cafe in Grimsby and offers creative sessions for people who have struggled with substance abuse. “When we took the building from [the landowner] the windows were rotten, there were dead pigeons, bird crap, it was a shell.” (Financial Times) 

If high status showers are important to you, you need a showerhead called a Jolie. Gwyneth Paltrow uses it, which probably means Dan Dees has one too. (WSJ) 

Child geniuses may not be adult geniuses. With age, processing power wanes more than knowledge-based abilities. It also varies more day-to-day. (BPS) 

The guide for building a Formula One car was contained in an Excel sheet with 20,000 "parts." The chaos of columns and rows meant Williams missed early pre-season testing in 2019 (Arstechnica) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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